Local Scouts serve the community through projects while working their way toward being an Eagle Scout.

After a successful community project and completing an application to bring before a review board, scouts can achieve the honor of “Eagle Scout.” The application includes the scouts’ involvement in the group over the years and a statement on their life ambitions and goals.

With that in mind, several scouts in troops across southeast Kansas each took on a community project — including  Allen Davis, of Baxter Springs, Thomas Spacheck, Ethan Lomshek, Dylan Helwig, all of Pittsburg, Zachary Troth, of Frontenac, Joshua Taylor Wyckoff, of Cherokee all of the Mo-Kan District.

Each of the scouts had to use skills, tools and communication skills to complete their project.

Allen’s flag retirement project was more than just about earning his Eagle Scout honor, it was about taking the time to respectfully retire the American flag and to honor veterans.

Overhearing the need for the community to know how to properly retire flags, Allen decided to take on a project that not only informed the public through a campaign, but also create a place where people can drop off their tattered flags at First Christian Church, 3020 Roberts Road in Baxter Springs.
“I wanted something concrete to keep the project around,” he said.

He said flags must be taken care of with respect and with a “reverent attitude when performed.”

Allen and the other scouts from his troop fold the flag in a traditional manner, with the stars and stripes folded in just the right way. The flag is then respectfully burned and buried. After being folded, plastic flags are buried rather than burned.

It was Allen’s grandfather, the late Charles Bradford Welch, who inspired him to take on the project the way he did. His grandfather was in the Army and fought in the Vietnam War. He died when Allen was a small child.
“I think of the veterans that we’re honoring, I always come back to him and how I would have loved to meet him,” he said.  “I always like to think he’d be happy, that’s why I did it.”

Allen, a freshman at Pittsburg State University, completed his application to become an Eagle Scout in Jan. 2018, and in July had his court of honor.
“I see it as an honor to have and to uphold the Eagle Scout tradition,” he said.

Allen inspired by his experience as a scout, he is currently studying polymer chemistry. Becoming an Eagle Scout also inspired him to join the Pitt State Honors College.
“One of the things Boy Scouts taught me was to ‘Leave No Trace,’ the scout motto for keeping the environment clean,” he said. “The original reason I am going into polymer chemistry is to work on making more environmentally conscious plastics and also reduce the micro plastic in the ocean.”

If plastics are not in his cards, Allen said he may go into the field of biology or geology “to give back to the Earth.”

Zachary, a senior at Frontenac High School, renovated the path at the Southeast Kansas Humane Society’s pet cemetery. He chose that project to help elderly and handicapped guests safely follow the path. The project was completed in Spring of 2018.
“I have peace of mind knowing my grandma or anyone else won’t fall and hurt themselves,” Zachary said.

Currently enrolled at the Southeast Kansas Career and Technical Education Center of Crawford County, Zachary utilized the skills he had been taught along with guidance from his teachers to renovate the path.

This summer, Zachary will go back to Camp Arrowhead as a lifeguard or a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math instructor in welding, metalworking and woodcraft using the skills he has developed at CTEC. He plans on working in a shop as a foreman in the future.

Ethan, a senior at St. Mary’s Colgan High School, cleaned out the brush at the 23rd Street Bike Park. Ethan said bicyclists were having a rough time going through the trails because of the brush and there was also an issue with mosquitoes.

With bicycling a passion of his family’s, Ethan decided to follow his parents footsteps by taking on the project. His parents, who own Tailwind Cyclists, helped with the park when it was created.
“It’s been overgrown for quite sometime and we always wanted to get a project going and didn’t succeed until I was able to get my Eagle Scout project going,” he said.

People can help Ethan keep the trail cleared by contacting his family’s business.

Like Zachary, Ethan will return to Camp Arrowhead as a mountain bike instructor. After that, he plans on going to PSU or the University of Arkansas.

Having an interest in shooting sports, Joshua, a senior at Southeast High School, built shotgun racks and a picnic table for the Cherokee Gun Club. Aside from the interest in the sport, Joshua said he chose the club because of their philanthropic efforts and its eagerness to support scouts.

Joshua used skills he was taught in the woodworking class in high school. He also had help from his father who also knows a bit about woodworking himself.

After high school, Joshua plans to join the U.S. Navy, following in the footsteps of several of his grandfathers who were in the Navy and U.S. Marine Corps and father who was in the U.S. Air Force.

Reaching the honor of Eagle Scout has provided Joshua with the opportunity to join the military at a higher rank. (E3)
“It’s not just the bump up, it’s the honor of being an Eagle Scout,” he said. “To have made it to that point is an achievement.”

Thomas, a junior at St. Mary’s Colgan High School, helped renovate the kitchen at the St. Pius X Newman Center at Pittsburg State University. He was informed that they could use new floors, a fresh coat of paint, electrical wiring and more cabinet space.

With the help of Austerman Construction, the project took a year to organize and one summer to complete.
“It feels good to be able to provide something meaningful,” Thomas said.

Overall, his experience in scouts have taught him to be a leader and respectful, Thomas said. He plans to go to Kansas State University to study engineering after he graduates high school.

According to Mo-Kan District Program Specialist Michelle Smith-Puckett, only 6 percent of youth that join make it to Eagle Scout, a lifelong honor.
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at spotter@morningsun.net or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.